Ch1Con 2017 Blog Tour: Interview with Ariel Kalati and Emma Rose Ryan!

2017 ch1con blog tour banner

Hey there, and welcome to the Ch1Con 2017 Blog Tour! (Stick around until the end of the post for a giveaway of a signed copy of Adam Silvera’s History Is All You Left Me!)

If you haven’t heard of it, the Chapter One Young Writers Conference (Ch1Con) is a writing conference entirely by and for young writers, open to writers ages eleven to twenty-three. The team that runs it is composed of a number of high school, college, and early-twenty-something writers, and we work to create a unique, inclusive experience for young attendees. (In case you don’t already know, hi, I’m the founder and director of Ch1Con.)

We’re really excited about the conference this year, which will take place Saturday, August 5th in downtown Chicago, IL. Our speakers will include all kinds of awesome people, including literary agent superstar Brent Taylor and New York Times bestselling author Kody Keplinger (her biggest hit, The DUFF, is now a movie!).

So, in honor of Ch1Con 2017, we’re holding this nifty blog tour! This is a special year for Ch1Con: 2017 marks our fifth year holding the conference! So, in honor of this momentous occasion, I’m pleased today to bring you an interview with two Ch1Con team members who have been part of the conference since the beginning, Ariel Kalati and Emma Rose Ryan.

Ariel

Ariel Kalati is currently a 20-year-old junior at Sarah Lawrence College, studying writing, literature, and sociology. She is Ch1Con’s Associate Online Administrator and hopes to go into community building surrounding writing and arts education. Though she has done some editorial work, she got tired of it because editing, as we all know, is hard. Now she spends most of her free time writing novels and poetry, reading YA books with magic in them, and talking about fandoms and social justice on the Internet. She can be easily bribed with pizza and other cheesy foods, but her skills primarily consist of sarcastic comments and Harry Potter trivia.

EmmaEmma Rose Ryan is a freshman in college studying Creative Writing. Her family and green tea notwithstanding, she loves stories more than anything in the world. Her primary obsessions are middle-grade fiction and fairy tales. In her free time, Emma works with the Chapter One Young Writers Conference and St. Genesius Productions.  Emma’s other interests include The West Wing, arguing, and petting cats.

The three of us are the last remaining original members of the Ch1Con team. What were your first thoughts when you heard the idea of doing a young writer’s conference?

Girls by Millennium Park Sign

The attendees of the original Chapter One Young Writers Conference hanging out in Chicago.

Ariel: It’s been so long and Ch1Con has been so successful that I honestly don’t remember, but I think I was mostly excited at the prospect of meeting my Internet friends! It was disappointing that none of us turned out to be forty-year-old men, though. I guess I thought something like, “oh, it’ll be cool if we turn this into a real big thing, but we’re probably not gonna, because we’re tiny babies.” Joke’s on you, past self, I guess.

Emma: I was thrilled, especially because the group decided to hold the event right in my back yard! If it hadn’t been in Chicago, I’m not sure I would have been able to come at all. I was only 13 at the time, and my mom was…skeptical. She knew how happy being on Write-It made me though, and I was so excited by the idea of meeting my hyper-talented online mentor/friend/heroes that she finally caved.

We all met on an online writing forum for teenagers hosted by Scholastic, called Write It. What was your favorite thing about Write It?

Ariel: My favorite thing about Write It was, I guess, kind of the point, which was that we were all writers. Like, we were all book people, and in real life middle/high school, there’s maybe one or two other serious writers at school. And people don’t take writing seriously. I think that’s changing, mainly because of online communities like Write It popping up more, but when I was ten, I got made fun of for liking books, so it was really great to find real live people my age who were aspiring authors.

waiting for a trainEmma: Oh, the community for sure. I was NOT a very skilled or prolific writer at the time, so I didn’t usually have a ton of work to share. What I DID have was a group of girls I could model myself after. You guys did NaNo, so I did NaNo. You guys outlined and plotted and worked diligently, so I attempted to do the same. I was VERY slow and further behind the rest of the community, but I felt so welcomed. I was learning and growing so much back then, and being a part of Write-It was a big part of my early formation as a writer.

What’s been your favorite part about being involved with Ch1Con so far?

Ariel: I cannot decide… I think my favorite part is whenever I see our attendees start talking with one another, whether in-person at the con or online, and just get excited like, “Wait, you read that book too? Wait, you also do horror stories? Oh my gosh you like this weird YouTube series of book reviews too?” or whatever.

IMG_2843

At the first Ch1Con in 2012, we all got t-shirts with our Write It usernames on the backs. (If you’re trying to figure out how the first conference was in 2012 but 2017 is only the fifth one, we skipped 2013.)

Of all the things that Ch1Con can do for young writers, like educate about publishing and stuff, I think providing a community is the most important.

Emma: I love love love the conference and getting to put faces to the names and the twitter handles I’ve been getting to know all year. I think the online community we foster has mimicked  Write-It, and so that thrill of getting to meet your online friends and heroes in person is still there for me.

2017 is the fifth Chapter One Young Writers Conference, and since we started Ch1Con during the 2011-2012 school year, a lot has changed. Do you want to give a brief overview of where you started versus where you are now?

conference room 2012

We held the first conference in a hotel room, huddled around a coffee table.

Ariel: Well, when I came to the first Ch1Con, there were six of us hanging out in a hotel room, and I came down by train, and I spent the whole way there thinking of funny jokes to tell in case everyone hated me. My backup joke was to just yell “Semicolons!” because well, that was my thing, semicolons. Also, I was working on the first draft of the book that I’m editing now, and I was really pretentious and wanted to become a museum curator. Now, I’m still pretty pretentious, but I have different career aspirations. I also have better joke material. I still love semicolons; they’re useful. I’m more sure of myself in a good way and less in an insufferable way. So I guess it’s been an improvement!

Emma: Ohhhh my goodness. I’m going to argue that I have hands down changed the most? I was thirteen at Con 1, and at that time I was SUCH a middle schooler. I had all the angst and insecurity and narcissism that comes along with being that age, but I also had these amazing nearly-adults in my life who loved the same things that I did. I think you guys have allowed me to grow into a somewhat well-adjusted person. I still struggle with a lot of the issues I had when I was that age regarding my writing (sadly), but I cannot say that I haven’t gotten better.

Also, I just realized I am the Last Hope of the Write-It squad in terms of achieving our shared (extreme) dream of being published as a teenager. Two years left!!! I gotta get writing…

If you could say one thing to the writer you were when we started Ch1Con, what would it be?

hi bronwenAriel: I would say, you’re allowed to write what you want to write, not what you think you have to write, because there’s plenty of time and plenty of room for lots of different stories.

Emma: Take off the beanie, dude. It does not make your hair look better; it just makes a whole year of your photographs look weird. Don’t think about that boy so much; there will be others. Sit down every day and write about how you feel. Your feelings matter. It doesn’t have to exaggerate or be exciting for it to matter. Use fewer adverbs. Make fewer excuses. Get to work.

A huge thanks to Emma and Ariel for letting me interview them (and for putting up with me all these years). And thanks for visiting the first stop on the Ch1Con 2017 Blog Tour!

You can check out the next stop on the blog tour on Tuesday, April 18 on author (and 2017 workshop leader) Annie Sullivan’s blog! She’ll be interviewing me and giving away a copy of Angie Thomas’s The Hate U Give. And make sure to visit the Ch1Con blog for the rest of the 2017 tour schedule (including info on all of the awesome giveaways we’re running).

Speaking of giveaways: for this stop on the tour, we’re giving away a SIGNED copy of Adam Silvera’s brilliant History Is All You Left Me! The giveaway will run until the end of the blog tour on May 31. It’s open to anyone in the mainland United States.

Click here to enter the giveaway!

Thanks again for checking out the first stop on the Ch1Con 2017 Blog Tour and don’t forget to follow the rest of the stops!

~Julia

P.S. Here’s a picture of the attendees, volunteers, and speakers at the fourth Ch1Con, in 2016. Look how much we’ve grown!

IMG_0582

Advertisements

NaNo Day 10: Interview with Ariel Kalati

Yesterday I ended up doing homework (and extra-curricular work) (and work-work) until around 9:00 PM, at which point I ACTUALLY GOT TO WRITE BEFORE ELEVEN O’CLOCK AT NIGHT.

It was a beautiful occasion.

I’m still so tired from staying up late writing all last week that I ended up conking out a little before midnight, so I didn’t end up spending a ton of time NaNoing last night. But despite that, I still got a little over 2,000 words written, putting me at 15,500 overall (and only 1.5k behind my goal!).

It’s funny how I’m now excited about a word count that is still behind where I should be at this point. Like, “I could be 5,000 words behind, but instead I’m only 1,500! PARTAYYY.” Oh well. It happens.

Anyway: Like the past couple years, throughout November I’m sharing interviews with other writers competing in NaNoWriMo in order to give a broader perspective of the event. (Also to just let you meet these fantastic humans, because I adore them.)

Today’s interview is with Ariel Kalati, my favorite pizza enthusiast and this year’s associate online administrator for Ch1Con. Here we go!

*****

ariel kalati reading

1. Tell us a bit about yourself.
My name’s Ariel Kalati. I’m a nineteen-year-old sophomore at Sarah Lawrence College, studying creative writing and French. I’ve wanted to be a writer ever since I learned to read and so far I’ve written four or five novels, depending on whether you count that terrible one from seventh grade. My main interests are Harry Potter, Parks and Recreation, eating food, and sleeping.


2. You’re a NaNo rebel this November, meaning that you’ve taken on a writing challenge, but it isn’t the traditional “write 50,000 words of a novel in one month” one. What are you doing instead? Why did you choose to do this?
This month I’m doing “NaNoEdMo,” which is a thing I made up. I’m trying to edit 50 scenes of my book in 30 days. Since the NaNoWriMo website doesn’t work with this, I’m using the website MyWriteClub to track my progress. The reason I decided to do NaNoEdMo instead of NaNoWriMo this year is because I’ve been working on this book for almost four years and it’s about time I finish editing it instead of starting an exciting new project. Basically, I’m being responsible, and it’s weird.

3. Can you tell us about your novel?
I cannot, actually, because I suck at summaries. But I’ll try. It’s about magic aliens, some of whom want to kill all humans and some of whom do not want to do that. Two human teenagers get involved in this issue because of a prophecy and wishes and stuff. It’s slightly less cliche than it sounds.

4. In addition to doing your rebellious NaNoWriMo this year, you’re also a full-time student, involved in extra-curriculars, interning remotely, volunteering as Ch1Con’s associate online administrator, and more. How do you balance so much at once?
I’m not really sure. It involves a lot of last-minute panicking, multitasking, and naps. Too many naps.

5. Any tips for revising a novel?
Well, if it’s your first time revising a novel, I have some semi-bad news for you, which is that you’re probably going to have to rewrite the entire thing. But the good news is that writing is fun and this time you already have the basic skeleton so it’ll be way easier than the first draft was. I recommend creating a separate file where you have a detailed outline of your whole book so that you can look at the structure of the plot and find where to remove stuff, where there are plot holes, etc. I’ve never made it past the Giant Rewriting Do-Over-the-Entire-Book edits so I don’t have any tips for regular, line-edit-y revisions.

6. Quick: what is your #1, go-to snack food for when the writing (or revisions) get tough?
Depends on if I’m at home or if I’m at school. At home, I tend to go for a spoonful of Nutella. At school, I do not have Nutella, so I usually go for one of my school’s croissants. They’re basically like a stick of butter in bread form.

7. And last but not least, where can we find you online?

I’m on Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, and Pinterest. I also have a blog at arielkalati.blogspot.com that updates weekly.

*****
Thanks for letting me interview you again this year, Ariel! I always love seeing your answers.

Goal for Today: 0 + 1,500 (from Friday)

Overall Goal: 17,000

Current Word Count: 15,504

~Julia

Ch1Con Blog Tour: Interview with Ava Jae!

It’s finally my turn to host a tour stop for the 2015 Chapter One Young writers Conference blog tour!

For anyone who doesn’t know, Ch1Con is a writing conference both for and by teens and young adults. Our 2015 event will take place Saturday, August 8th in Arlington Heights, IL, a northern suburb of Chicago. 2015 registration is currently open on the Ch1Con website for writers from a middle school to undergraduate level and at an early bird discount price of $39.99. Our speakers will include YA author Kat Zhang (The Hybrid Chronicles, HarperCollins), renowned freelance editor Taryn Albright of The Girl with the Green Pen, and YA/NA author Ava Jae (Beyond the Red, Sky Pony Press).

Instead of me spending my tour stop rambling endlessly about the conference (because let’s face it, I do that enough anyway), I figured you might appreciate learning about one of our speakers instead. So, say hello to the one and only Ava Jae!

Processed with VSCOcam with t1 presetAva Jae is a YA and NA writer, an Assistant Editor at Entangled Publishing, and is represented by Louise Fury of The Bent Agency. Her YA Sci-Fi debut, BEYOND THE RED, is releasing March 2016 from Sky Pony Press. When she’s not writing about kissing, superpowers, explosions, and aliens, you can find her with her nose buried in a book, nerding out over the latest X-Men news, or hanging out on her blog, Twitter, Facebook, tumblr, Goodreads, Instagram, or YouTube channel.
    **********
    Your debut novel, BEYOND THE RED, comes out with Sky Pony Press in spring, 2016. What was the process like for getting your publishing deal?
    Oh boy. I’ll give you the super abbreviated version: I wrote nine books, queried four of them (one of them twice, several years apart), put them away, wrote a tenth book which ended up being BEYOND THE RED, swapped with critique partners, revised, revised, revised, started querying again, entered a randomly-chosen blog contest, won runner-up in said blog contest which led to a request from my awesome agent, signed with her, revised tons more (and more, and more), went on submission…and finally announced the publishing deal October 2014. 🙂
      When did you start writing? Was it with the goal of someday publishing a novel, or just for fun?
      I kind of started twice? The first time I was eleven and wrote I think maybe fifty pages before I lost interest and forgot about it. Second time I was thirteen, and it evolved from “I’m going to write this story that popped in my head” to “I’m going to write this book” to “I’m going to get this published.” By the time I’d finished that book, I knew without a doubt I wanted to be an author. And so began many years of writing and querying…
        Besides being an up-and-coming author, you’re also currently a college student, assistant editor for Entangled Publishing, and prolific blogger and vlogger. How do you balance all of that? What does your average day look like?
        I mean, my day kind of varies depending on my school schedule. Some consistent things: I get up between 5:00-5:30 AM every day, get as much writing/blogging/homework/editing things done as I can before class, go to class, and try to relax after class if I can (because usually I’m too tired to do anything else).
          The only way to do it, really, is to have a set schedule. On days I have not as much class, I focus on getting as much homework and writing/blogging stuff as I can. I write posts every Monday, Wednesday and Saturday, edit and schedule posts every Tuesday, Thursday and Sunday, film vlogs every Saturday or Sunday, edit vlogs every Friday-Monday, and catch up on whatever I need to over the weekend on Wednesdays. When I get an editing deadline for work, I make sure to be honest with my boss about when I can realistically get things done (so important!). I schedule things out way ahead of time, divide work up throughout the week, and keep a to-do list that I check off every day.
            Over the summer it’s much easier without classes to worry about. *sigh*
              What are some of your interests outside of the publishing world?
              Movies! I love movies. Fun fact: I actually have an Associates in Film/Digital Media and went to a fancy art school for a year to pursue a degree in Visual Effects (like, all that CGI stuff). I also really love drawing and digital art—I used to do a ton of digital paintings on Photoshop, and while I haven’t had time lately, I’m hoping to pick that up again over the summer. I’m pretty artsy I guess. 🙂
                If you could change or improve one thing about the publishing industry, what would it be?
                I mean, I guess I wish it was easier to make a living with your writing? Because it’s super super super difficult. But it’s pretty well known that you don’t go into the publishing industry to make tons of money—it’s a labor of love. And ramen.
                  Your writing is represented by Louise Fury of The Bent Agency. What’s your favorite part of working with your literary agent?
                  Revisions! (I’m probably going to regret saying this—hi, Louise!) But seriously, I really do love revising even when I’m banging my head against the keyboard trying to figure out how to fix a plot hole. And Team Fury is ridiculously awesome when it comes to getting great revision suggestions. Also, Louise’s enthusiasm for every book is pretty awesome. It’s kind of impossible for me to have a conversation with her that doesn’t make me really excited and happy, which is pretty much the best thing. 🙂
                    If you could give one piece of advice to young writers, what would it be?
                    Don’t set a deadline for yourself. For years I was determined to get published before Christopher Paolini (I’m competitive, okay?), and that didn’t happen, and it was pretty hard to come to terms with the fact that I wasn’t going to be a published (or agented) teenager.
                      Don’t do that to yourself. Take time to hone your craft, to write the most amazing books possible, to learn how to become a better writer, and develop a thick skin, and get to really know the publishing industry. You already have the advantage of starting early in life—now use the extra time you have to become the best possible and don’t worry about getting published before you turn twenty. I promise you’ll be just as happy at twenty-five or thirty or whenever it happens for you.
                        And lastly: Where can people find you online?
                        Everywhere! I’m on Twitter, tumblr, Facebook, Instagram, YouTubePinterest and Goodreads. I am the social media.
                          **********
                          Thanks for letting me interview you, Ava! I’m so excited to hear you speak at the conference.
                            Ava has very kindly offered to give away a query and first five page critique as part of the tour stop. Check it out at the link below!

                              AWESOME CRITIQUE GIVEAWAY RIGHT OVER HERE!

                              If you’re a writer from middle school to undergraduate age (approximately twelve to twenty-two) and are interested in attending and/or learning more about the conference, you can check us out at the links below. Early bird registration ends May 31st!

                              Website: Chapter One Young Writers Conference
                              Twitter: @Ch1Con
                              Tumblr: Chapter One Young Writers Conference
                              YouTube: Chapter One Young Writers Conference
                              Pinterest: Chapter One YW Conference
                              Facebook: Chapter One Young Writers Conference

                              The Chapter One Young Writers Conference.
                              Every story needs a beginning. This is ours.

                              ~Julia

                              NaNo Day 28: Interview with Patrice Caldwell

                              Happy Day After Thanksgiving! I’m about to leave on a road trip to my fourth and final Thanksgiving dinner of the year, out in Chicago. And I need to work on my twelve page film history term paper in the car, so today should be fun. (Benefits of finishing NaNo early: Writing my term paper earlier. Downsides of finishing NaNo early: Writing my term paper earlier.)

                              Like last year, throughout November I’m sharing interviews with other writers competing in NaNoWriMo in order to give a broader perspective of the event. (Also to just let you meet these fantastic humans, because I adore them.) In addition, all of this year’s interviewees are Ch1Con team members!

                              Today’s interview is with Patrice Caldwell, Ch1Con’s Master of Marketing and all around brilliant human being. Patrice and I met online what feels like ages ago–I think through a group for college writers on WriteOnCon? (You know it’s been a while if I don’t even remember.) Long story short: I’ve been following her blog forever and she is intelligent, and passionate, and hilarious, and you have no idea how grateful I am to have her as part of the Ch1Con team. Take it away, Patrice.

                              **********

                              patrice-caldwell_(1)Q: In one sentence, what is your novel about?

                              A: One sentence, yikes! *cracks knuckles* Okay.

                              Set in a land where magic is strictly forbidden HEIRS OF FIRE AND ICE is the story of two young women, Zahra, a trader of items of questionable means (call her a pirate and she’ll have your tongue), and Aaliyah, a princess without a country, who are forced together by unforeseen circumstances and must journey to uncover their mysteriously linked pasts and save their empire.

                              Vague. I know, but I’m working on it. I will say this it’s set in a land based on medieval African civilizations, and my Pinterest board is to die for… now if only my novel could reach that level :/

                              Q: What is your favorite part of NaNoWriMo?

                              A: The accessibility of it. I love how it breaks down the myth that you have to have studied writing for years, yada, yada, yada. NaNoWriMo is all about jumping in and doing a crazy/scary/usually thought of as unrealistic thing. To me it never matters if you’re actually able to reach 50,000 words. Let me be honest, I never have. It’s the fact that you tried, that you started, and for me, NaNo is the burst of energy and support I need to finish the MS by the end of the year since most of my manuscripts/most MSs are longer than 50,000 words anyway.

                              Q: Do you have any specific writing rituals you follow?

                              A: Ha! Can Write Anywhere, Anytime type of person…do they actually exist? TEACH ME. No, but seriously. I wish I could do that. Being a college student, I would write so much more if I could write anywhere (of course I have been known to plot stories and figure out entire scenes during class when I should be taking notes). I, however, have some rituals. The main one being that I like to brew me a nice (hot) cup of green tea (I’m a bit of a green tea snob) before I start writing (usually in the morning). I sit at my desk (or stand at my standing desk) near my window with a great view of campus and I write. I also make sure I have one of my yellow legal pads with several multi-color ink pens beside my laptop so I can take notes, etc. if need be. My writing process also involves a lot of pacing and talking aloud (mostly to my stuffed animals, LOL) so I like my room to be clean so I have a clear path.

                              …See what I mean. I must seem like a (writing) diva.

                              Q: What’s your secret to juggling life and NaNo at the same time?

                              No secret. I firmly believe if something’s important enough to you, you MUST make time for it. It’s something I struggle with every day. But, writing is my life. It’s the way I relax, and so when I don’t write I get stressed. It’s crucial to my well being that I make time for writing whether it’s 30 minutes before class, during class (haha), or before I go to bed I always try to make time to “put pen to paper.” It’s hard though but discipline really is the key to success (and happiness).

                              Q: Any advice for the troops? 

                              I love the quote do what you love, the rest will follow. And so I like to say write what you love the rest (the story) will follow. Laini Taylor has this great quote where she talks about the importance of “just writing.” Don’t stare at a blank screen. Writing about writing is better than not writing. Eventually you’ll figure out where you got lost or stuck. It’s currently my desktop background so I thought I’d leave it here for you along with a quote by Isabelle Allende:

                              It’s what helps me. Taking it word by word, and not thinking or stressing about the rest.

                              Also, I have a collection of resources for writers on my blog. They’re posts, videos, etc. that have helped me get through certain points of the writing process. Hope that helps. Good luck! You’ve got this 😀 Carry on.

                              **********

                              Thanks for letting me interview you, Patrice!

                              Want to learn more about Patrice? You can find her at the following links.

                              Goal for today: 3,000.

                              Overall goal: 50,000.

                              Current word count: 50,127.

                              How was your Thanksgiving?

                              ~Julia

                              NaNo Day 25: Interview with Aisha Al-Amin

                              Last day of classes before Thanksgiving! I’m so excited to go home and see my friends and family. And I’m going to Chicago in a couple days to celebrate with some relatives out there, so I’m obviously excited for that too. Now it’s just a matter of getting through these last few hours and assignments so I’ll have enough time to relax over break before I need to kick it into high gear on final projects.

                              Like last year, throughout November I’m sharing interviews with other writers competing in NaNoWriMo in order to give a broader perspective of the event. (Also to just let you meet these fantastic humans, because I adore them.) In addition, all of this year’s interviewees are Ch1Con team members!

                              Today’s interview is with Aisha Al-Amin, one of Ch1Con’s new Creative Consultants. She’s hilarious and brilliant and she seems to be the only team member Google+ actually likes during our monthly Ch1Con Chats (so obviously Google agrees that she’s awesome). Take it away, Aisha.

                              **********

                              Q: In one sentence, what is your novel about? 

                              A: In the year 2050 for the first time in history humans discover another world with intelligent life.

                              Q: What is your favorite part of Nanowrimo?

                              A: I would have to say the sense of accomplishment you feel at the end of the month, even if you haven’t won, it’s still amazing.

                              Q: Do you have any specific writing rituals you follow? 

                              A: Yes, yes I do! I have to have a cup of my Grandma’s hot chocolate with creamer, and a sweater that goes to my fingers.

                              Q: What’s your secret to juggling life and Nano at the same time? 

                              A: I always make sure to write extra when I have the time, because I know some days I just won’t have the energy -so the days that I do have the energy I make sure to put in extra work.

                              Q: Any advice for the troops?

                              A: I would say don’t be discouraged because someone else has written more than you! It’s all about you this month and challenging yourself.

                              **********

                              Thanks for letting me interview you, Aisha!

                              Want to learn more about Aisha? You can find her at the following links.

                              https://twitter.com/miss_hijabi

                              http://hijabionhilltop.tumblr.com/

                              http://nanowrimo.org/participants/aishamonet

                              Goal for today: 1,000.

                              Overall goal: 47,000.

                              Current word count: 47,537.

                              ~Julia

                              NaNo Day 17: Interview with Ariel Kalati

                              Having one of those days when it feels like absolutely nothing will ever go right ever again and I might as well melt in a pool of my own tears and never go outside again.

                              Which is stupid, I realize. Because I’m currently sitting in a really nice and cozy apartment at a really good university and I had a really good breakfast and two of my really awesome roommates–who I do not in any way deserve–are sitting beside me and just talked me down from the tantrum I was throwing over some news I got and yeah.

                              I’m so incredibly lucky. And sometimes it’s hard to remember that after getting bad news and more bad news and not knowing how to proceed from this point and ugh. But it’s true.

                              So I’m trying to hold onto that. And remembering that yesterday was a really good day, and up until recently I’d been having nothing but good days for a long time, and we all have to pay our dues to karma eventually.

                              Also, it’s snowing and I’ve got good music playing and I read a good book this morning. (Nick and Norah’s Infinite Playlist, if you’re curious.) So life is good. Today, even, has overall been good. It’s just about what I focus on.

                              And, starting now, I’m focusing on the good parts of today.

                              Speaking of which: Today I am thrilled to share with you an interview!

                              Like last year, throughout November I’m sharing interviews with other writers competing in NaNoWriMo in order to give a broader perspective of the event. (Also to just let you meet these fantastic humans, because I adore them.) In addition, all of this year’s interviewees are Ch1Con team members!

                              Today’s interview is with Ariel Kalati, one of my oldest writing friends. We’ve known each other forever, went to BookCon 2014 together, she’s spoken at the previous two Ch1Cons, she has this AMAZING eye for grammar, AND she’s one of Ch1Con’s new Creative Consultants. And she is fabulously snarky and hilarious. And yeah. Take it away, Ariel.

                              **********

                              Q: In one sentence, what is your novel about?

                              (A rewrite of NaNo 2012 ’cause I’m a rebel) Two teenagers are forced to convince the beast of winter to help them save the human race from evil spirits.

                              Q: What is your favorite part of NaNoWriMo?

                              My favorite part is when you didn’t write for a few days and you’re moping about and then it’s like you’re in an inspirational movie montage and you write EIGHT THOUSAND WORDS IN ONE DAY and you’re very proud of yourself.

                              Q: Do you have any specific writing rituals you follow?

                              Not really. I like to write between 10 pm and 1 am generally, and some chocolate is always helpful.

                              Q: What’s your secret to juggling life and NaNo at the same time?

                              There’s a lot of crying involved and yelling at people that they don’t understand the hardships of NaNoWriMo.

                              Q: Any advice for the troops?

                              You don’t necessarily have to write every day. Some days are “ugh writing sucks” days and some days are “so much writing yay!” days. Try to focus more on your weekly word count than your daily word count. And remember, bribing yourself with food and blackmailing yourself with lack of food are unhealthy but efficient ways to get that word count up!

                              **********

                              Thanks for letting me interview you, Ariel! And thanks for reading!

                              Goal for today: 2,000 + yesterday’s leftover 2,000 + Saturday’s 3,000 + Friday’s 3,500.

                              Overall goal: 35,000.

                              Current word count: 27,754.

                              ~Julia

                              NaNo Day 4: Interview with Kira Budge

                              Today’s another day I knew I wouldn’t have time to write, so I’ve got no NaNoing planned again. But I PROMISE I’ll be back at it tomorrow.

                              In the meantime, I’ve got twelve hours of classes today (already begun) involving two projects due (one already turned in) and probably giving a semi-impromptu presentation thing in YA lit on the We Need Diverse Books Indiegogo campaign (check it out and donate here). And I’m about to have to sit through my second Bergman film of the week thanks to my film classes conspiring to make me fall in hate with Swedish art films. (I’m sorry, but there’s only so much Bergman I can handle in one semester.) Plus working on stuff for all those announcements I keep not-so-subtly hinting at.

                              But I just finished eating a really good bagel and I’ve got a warm Chai latte next to my laptop and, once again: I might have a lot going on, but they’re all good things. So I’m happy to stumble my exhausted way through them.

                              Anyway: Like last year, throughout November I’m going to be sharing interviews with other writers competing in NaNoWriMo in order to give a broader perspective of the event. (Also to just let you meet this fantastic humans, because I adore them.) In addition, all of this year’s interviewees are Ch1Con team members! Yayyy!

                              Today’s interview is with Kira Budge, one of my favorite people on the planet. We’ve been friends since middle school, she’s one of my CPs, and she’s the Associate Online Administrator for Ch1Con. ON TOP OF ALL THIS, I’m insanely jealous of her NaNoWriMo novel. Take it away, Kira.

                              **********

                               

                              Q: In one sentence, what is your novel about?

                              A: My novel, Sammi, is the story of a girl with OCD on her journey to diagnosis/recovery as told from the POV of the OCD itself.

                              Q: What is your favorite part of NaNoWriMo?

                              A: I love NaNo because it gives me an excuse to stop editing all my old books for a while and write something new instead in one big burst of awesome! All the creative juices get to flow with complete abundance. It makes me very happy.

                              Q: Do you have any specific writing rituals you follow? (Like do you have to have a decaf skim chai latte with extra cinnamon that’s exactly 102 degrees Fahrenheit in order to get those creative juices flowing, or are you more of a Can Write Anywhere, Anytime type of person?)

                              A: I’m a write anywhere, anytime person. Ideally I’d be in my bed with my laptop playing some movie scores, but really, I can write just about anywhere. Like in class. A lot. NANO SUCCESS!

                              Q: What’s your secret to juggling life and NaNo at the same time?

                              A: … I write in class. A lot. Haha, mostly I’m just very enthusiastic about getting to write something new and that gets me going as profusely as possible!

                              Q: Any advice for the troops?

                              A: Be happy! NaNo is a challenge but it’s the kind of challenge where you get to have fun doing something you love. =) Make the most of it. And thanks for reading!

                              **********

                              Thanks for letting me interview you, Kira!

                              Want to learn more about Kira? You can find her at the following links.

                              Website: http://www.kirabudge.weebly.com

                              Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/kirabudge

                              Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/kirabauthor

                              Thanks for reading!

                              Goal for today: 0.

                              Overall goal: 6,000.

                              Current word count: 7,140.

                               

                              ~Julia

                              Wordy Wednesday: Interview with Rachel

                              I’m currently on vacation in Europe with la familia, so this week’s Wordy Wednesday is one of our many wonderful interviews and guests posts for the summer!

                              Please welcome the incredible Rachel!

                              **********
                              Tell us a bit about yourself.
                              I am Rachel, I have been reading Julia’s blog for over two years and she is the reason I write and have a blog. My blog is rachelrecaps.wordpress.com and I have been doing it for less than a year. I am a college student at University of Rhode Island and have completed my first year as an environmental science major with a film minor. Ideally I want to save the world through film so documentaries (I like to edit) starting with water purity or plastic/energy alternatives.
                              What kind of writing do you do?
                              I write for fun and do not plan on publishing a novel or any large body of work but life takes you in unexpected ways so I really don’t know. I am currently working on my novel that I started in November for NaNoWriMo called Collin and Jade. The first draft is almost done. I think in another 10k words it will be there. I want to finish writing it before I start a new project. I have never written a “novel” completely before so this one should be my first. But writing is rewriting so in like a year or two I may feel good enough about it to show people the entire thing. If you want to read some of the story the first four chapters are on my blog just search Collin and Jade.
                              If you could travel anywhere, where would you go?
                               If I could travel anywhere I would want to go back to Ireland, it’s so green and beautiful and the vibe is really chill I would trace my heritage and never leave. Well maybe I would like to visit Scotland occasionally but I loved it so much I do not understand why anyone would want to leave.
                              Favorite drink?
                              Water
                              Favorite activity outside of reading and writing?
                              Quidditch (like from Harry Potter, it is a real sport you can look it up.)
                              Favorite Youtube channel?
                              VlogBrothers (I have watched all of their videos in under 2 months that is 7 years worth of content 1200+ videos.)
                              Favorite book?
                              The Hunger Games
                              Favorite board game?
                              Clue FX
                              Favorite language (other than your native one)?
                              Latin (I took 3 years in high school and really respect it)
                              Favorite candy?
                              Candy Crush (I have run out of levels a few times)(I don’t really eat candy so I know this answer is cheating but it’s honest because I do not eat chocolate or gelatin so that eliminates most of the candies)
                              Favorite instrument?
                              Bass Guitar, because I used to play it in a girl band
                              **********
                              Thanks for letting me interview you, Rachel! And thanks for reading!
                              ~Julia

                              Wordy Wednesday: Interview with Susi Greganova

                              I’m now in Europe (or, you know, will be at the time this post goes up)–which means this week’s Wordy Wednesday is one of our many wonderful interviews and guests posts for the summer!

                              Please welcome one of the amazing writers I’m lucky enough to call my friend, Susi Greganova!

                              **********

                              Super Susi

                              What project(s) are you currently working on?
                              Right now? Managing my exams, planning out my life, and a cliché warm family novel which I´m only writing for myself so I can calm down and concentrate on learning. But the moment I have time, I´ll start work on a psychological thriller (The Shadow People), an epistolary novel dealing with child development (Hi T), and a middle grade adventure novel partially set in the cyber world (The Quest). There are also a lot of poems that I need to sort out and edit.

                              What are you planning to study at college?
                              Nooo clue. My dream course is PPE at Oxford, but that costs too much. But I think I´ll still apply for it in October. In the meantime, I´ll probably study “law and economics”.

                              Any fun summer plans?
                              Figuring out what to do with my life. And I want to do Camp NaNoWriMo and finish a novel. And…yeah. Have crazy fun adventures. (Or study for my exams if I don´t pass them in June. :/ )

                              If you could travel anywhere, where would you go?
                              England because it´s my favourite place in the world. Or just all around the world so I can see everything.

                              Favorite food?
                              Spaghetti

                              Favorite drink?
                              Aloe Vera juice

                              Favorite dessert?
                              Chocolate mousse (fun fact: I used to be The Official Queen of Chocolate Mousse on a message board once)

                              Favorite season?
                              Autumn

                              Favorite activity outside of reading and writing?
                              Jazz dancing…or just generally daydreaming/imagining stuff

                              Favorite movie?
                              Johnny English

                              Favorite TV show?
                              The Green Green Grass

                              Favorite Youtube channel?
                              AVByte

                              Favorite website?
                              Figment

                              Favorite board game?
                              Monopoly

                              Favorite language (other than your native one)?
                              Italian

                              Favorite sport?
                              Football

                              Favorite candy?
                              I don´t know if anyone knows them, but I love Milka Choco Mix bags which are basically little bags full of chocolate drops as well as jelly sweets or mini Oreos.

                              Favorite instrument?
                              Piano (i.e. the only one I can play)

                              Coffee or tea?
                              Coffee…but I really like tea too

                              Ice cream or froyo?
                              Froyo

                              Movie or TV show?
                              Movie

                              Morning or night?
                              Night!

                              City or country?
                              City

                              Cat or dog?
                              Dog

                              Rain or shine?
                              Rain!!

                              Camp or hotel?
                              Hotel

                              Stay in or go out?
                              Go out

                              Casual or fancy?
                              Casual

                              Handwrite or type?
                              Handwrite for poetry, type for prose
                              **********

                              Thanks for letting me interview you, Susi!

                              You can find Susi at the following links:
                              Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/susi.greganova?fref=ts&ref=br_tf
                              Figment: Super Susi
                              ask.fm: http://ask.fm/SusiGreganova#_=_

                              Thanks for reading!
                              ~Julia

                              Wordy Wednesday: Interview with Kira Budge

                              I’m now in Europe (or, you know, will be at the time this post goes up)–which means this week’s Wordy Wednesday is our first of many wonderful interviews and guests posts for the summer!

                              Please welcome my fabulous critique partner and friend, Kira Budge!

                              **********

                              Kira Budge

                              Tell us a bit about yourself.
                              I’m a sophomore at BYU-Idaho studying English: Creative Writing and a novelist, primarily of YA fantasy. Additionally, I’m the Associate Online Administrator of Ch1Con, a writing conference for teens. I play cello, foster kittens, and obsess over British TV in my spare time.

                              What kind of writing do you do?
                              Mostly YA fantasy novels, though they tend to straddle the line towards sci-fi. I write other stuff too, but nothing as seriously as that.

                              What project(s) are you currently working on?
                              I’m finishing up edits on What It Takes to Deal, a YA contemp, to prepare it to be sent out to agents.

                              What are you studying at college?
                              As seen le above, I’m an English: Creative Writing major! Because useful.

                              Any fun summer plans?
                              I WENT TO CH1CON HECK YESSES.

                              If you could travel anywhere, where would you go?
                              Britain. All of the Britain.

                              What’s your favorite kind of book?
                              I have lots of kinds of favorite books, but I tend to have a thing for YA sci-fi in particular, or at least I have recently.

                              Favorite food?
                              The food kind.

                              Favorite drink?
                              HOT CHOCOLATE.

                              Favorite dessert?
                              More chocolate. (Sorry Jules.)

                              Favorite season?
                              Summer.

                              Favorite activity outside of reading and writing?
                              Ummmmm… watching TV? Being generally useless?

                              Favorite movie?
                              Snow White and the Huntsman.

                              Favorite TV show?
                              Doctor Who!!!!

                              Favorite band/singer?
                              Linkin Park.

                              Favorite Youtube channel?
                              Pemberley Digital, but I love so so many more!

                              Favorite book?
                              This question is an unfair one, at any and all times. It’s a tie between Harry Potter and the Hunger Games. It always is.

                              Favorite website?
                              I don’t know about favorite, but the one I apparently go to the most is Goodreads.

                              Favorite board game?
                              Ew. Board games.

                              Favorite videogame?
                              Ew. Videogames.

                              Favorite language (other than your native one)?
                              Spanish? Latin? One of those.

                              Favorite sport?
                              No.

                              Favorite candy?
                              Chocolate.

                              Favorite pie?
                              Apple. Or cherry. Or blueberry. Or chocolate.

                              Favorite instrument?
                              CELLO. YES. I PLAY CELLO.

                              Coffee or tea?
                              Neither. I’m Mormon. *smiles cheesily*

                              Ice cream or froyo?
                              BOTH. (Probably froyo, though, for real.)

                              Movie or TV show?
                              TV show.

                              Morning or night?
                              Night.

                              City or country?
                              Small town. Those other places are icky.

                              Cat or dog?
                              CATTTTTTTTTTTTTT.

                              Rain or shine?
                              Rain. Sun hurts my eyes.

                              Camp or hotel?
                              Hotel, baby.

                              Stay in or go out?
                              Stay in all of the times.

                              Casual or fancy?
                              …. either. Depending on the situation. I like to do both of them.

                              Edward or Jacob? (Kidding.)
                              I see your kidding and raise you a TEAM EDWARD for the books and TEAM WHY DO THESE MOVIES EXIST LAUTNER IS SO MUCH HOTTER for the movies.

                              Hot or cold?
                              Hot. I am allergic to cold.

                              Handwrite or type?
                              No one in potato can read my handwriting, not even me. Type.

                              Paperback or hardcover?
                              I think paperback. But I’ve never actually thought about this question before. Hmm! Good one, Jules!

                              **********

                              Why thank you, Kira! And thanks for letting me interview you!

                              You can find Kira at the following links:

                              Twitter: @KiraBudge
                              Thanks for reading!
                              ~Julia